During 9/11, many people turned to their families and friends for comfort and security in those frightening first hours and days after the attacks. And many many people turned to the internet.
On the swing dance website I moderate called Yehoodi.com, many people in the swing community gathered in our discussion boards to share what news and rumors they had heard, to comfort each other, to express their fear and horror and anger and sorrow. Our community came together in a way that it had never really done before in the wake of the disaster.
Unfortunately, we lost the main discussion thread that was started by our member Gardenia at 9:06am on September 11 entitled “There’s a hole in the World Trade Center.” One of our upgrades deleted many of our older threads, including that one.
Fortunately our member Racetrack had the foresight to save the thread on his computer for some reason. He recently sent me his entire archive, which I very quickly and roughly threw together into one very large HTML file. It’s a rough read still, but it’s also heartening seeing our little dance community come together and support one another and grieve the loss of all of those lives.
The complete thread can be read here.
Lots of amazing posts in that thread, mainly people checking in with each other, offering up places to stay to stranded folks, expressions of support. My friend Zeno was closest to losing his life:
I worked on the 51st floor of the World Trade Center, tower #1.
This morning, I took the N/R train to where the subway exit blends into the concourse underneath the WTC. At 8:45 AM I got out and started walking to the basement entrance to my building, but saw billows of smoke rushing towards me. People were screaming to get the hell out.
After exiting the building, it was snowing office paper and debris. On Church Street, from the street that borders the eastern block, a gaping hole 10 stories high breathed flame and smoke. Mobs of people were trotting away on the street; some were crying, worried about friends and colleagues. Then I witnessed the first few people, plunging to their deaths, apparently to escape the fire that would have painfully scorched them to death.
By this time most people were gathered around watching the building burn and calling people. I ran into an hysterical colleague who I tried to comfort. We then witnessed more people jumping. Sick of the ghastliness, we went out of sight of the buildings behind Trinity Church on Broadway.
A few minutes later, a second explosion shook the area, and panicked people ran away. It was complete mayhem. People tripped over each other. Mothers were protecting their baby carriages. In the fray I lost touch with my colleague. I was in complete shock, but I managed to walk home safely.
Many people knew I worked at the World Trade Center tower. Thank you all for calling and checking in on me. I am a very lucky person to have so narrowly escaped tragedy.
This post by Basil Stag Hare summarized it perfectly:
i think the very existence of this thread is exactly what america best embodies – the willingness to care for those unknown to you and far away. it’s a sad thing that some people feel a need to remove that compassion from the world.
ogden is right – this is the new world.